Hagel foes seem likely to allow vote

Posted: February 18, 2013

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Republican opponents of former Sen. Chuck Hagel's stalled bid to become defense secretary said Sunday that they probably will allow his Senate confirmation vote to proceed unless material more damaging to the nominee surfaces in the coming week.

Critics said the decorated Vietnam combat veteran is a "radical" unqualified to lead the U.S. military.

"No, I don't believe he's qualified," Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), said on NBC's Meet the Press of his fellow Republican. "But I don't believe that we should hold up his nomination any further, because I think it's [been] a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered."

Critics contend that Hagel isn't supportive enough of U.S. ally Israel and is unreasonably sympathetic to Iran, which has defied international pressure to halt its pursuit of material that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Republicans last week delayed a confirmation vote, but have indicated that one will be allowed when senators return from a break on Feb. 25.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), another leader of the opposition to Hagel, said on Fox News Sunday that as a result of a letter he received from Hagel in response to questions about past statements on Israel, he will take Hagel "at his word, unless something new comes along."

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, on ABC's This Week, said Hagel "has one thing in mind: how do we protect the country." He added there was nothing to worry about in any disclosures about Hagel that may still come.

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